OMYF Community Spotlight: Hope CommUnity Center

By Josh Cohen
June 15, 2012

ORLANDO -- Sometimes all it takes is some instruction and guidance to convert a strained and confrontational family into a peaceful and happy one.

Too often there is disarray inside homes, but many families around Central Florida are noticing major improvements after partaking in the Hope CommUnity Center’s Strong Families-Strong Futures program.

For the second consecutive year, the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF), granted the Hope CommUnity Center some financial assistance to help reinforce its mission of stabilizing relationships among impoverished families.

“We wouldn’t be able to run this program if it wasn’t for the Magic (OMYF-MFF),” said Sister Ann Kendrick, who works in community relations with the Hope CommUnity Center. “We have seen huge shifts in behavior from the parents and children.”

The concept of the program is rather simple: connect disintegrated families from underprivileged backgrounds to steer them in a more positive direction.

From the adults to teenagers to young children, every member of each family learns about ways to reduce hostility, engage in more healthy communication and improve overall behavior to create more peaceful living conditions.

“We have had amazing evaluations from the kids and parents,” Kendrick said. “Relationships have certainly improved and we have seen a huge change in attitude.”

Topics inside the classroom range from drug and alcohol prevention to the importance of exchanging healthy dialogue to avoid violent outbursts.

In many cases, Kendrick says, there is a profound spirit that shines from both the parents and kids that was rarely ever seen prior to these families joining the program. Kids, for example, notice their moms and dads smiling and laughing as they continue to develop a greater understanding of all the subjects discussed.

“Families really get some relief,” Kendrick said. “They learn about values and how to implement them into their homes.”

After receiving $100,000 last year from the OMYF-MFF and another $40,000 in 2012, the Hope CommUnity Center has been able to add more staff and learning material to strengthen the program.

“The Hope CommUnity Center provides so many worthy programs to youth,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “Through the match provided by the McCormick Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to provide a grant to further their Strong Families-Strong Futures program. The results the Center has seen with this program are tremendous.”

The Hope CommUnity Center was one of 19 non-profit organizations to receive grant money totaling $1 million from the OMYF-MFF this year. It’s the second consecutive year that the OMYF-MFF has given $1 million away, raising the total to approximately $17 million given to local non-profit groups over the past 22 years.

The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament with matching funds at $0.50 on the dollar provided by the McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation has been providing matching funds for the OMYF since 1994 (OMYF-MFF).

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